May 2017


Memorial Day

Others may see it differently, but I regard the two observances — Memorial Day and Veterans Day — to be for military men and women who died as a result of war, or who survived their wartime service and returned to civilian life, respectively.

As a result, on Memorial Day I remember the eldest brother of my great-great grandfather, who died of wounds suffered at the Battle of Stones River near Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where his Army of the Cumberland under Union Major General William Rosecrans met Confederate General Braxton Bragg's Army of Tennessee over the turn of 1862 to 1863. The battle was part of the Union campaign to claim Chattanooga and eventually reach Atlanta. From Atlanta the federals drove to the coast, cutting the already truncated Confederacy into even smaller pieces.

Private Richard McGehee, a sharpshooter for the 42nd Indiana Infantry, was one of three brothers who served in the U.S. Army during that war; my great-great grandfather was one of them but he and the other brother returned from the war and resumed their lives as husbands and fathers. Richard had been a husband and father too, but wounds suffered in the battle claimed his life on January 7, 1863.

The military service of my great-great grandfather, like that of my father, I commemorate in November.

© Memorial Day,  May 29, 2017  McGehee

I Do This Every So Often, No Need to Panic

The blog you are about to read is true. The name has been changed because I bloody well felt like it.

A cowboy's tally book was his record of work done, things (livestock, predators, property damage, people passing through, etc.) observed, weather conditions, and so forth. If he needed to report anything to the boss, he wrote it down so he wouldn't forget it.

I decided this was a better name for the blog than "Ridin' Fence", so here we are.

Addendum, July 31, 2017:

A cowboy, if he's old school
Minds his whiskers and keeps his cool
He may be old but he learned young
How not to get a sunburned tongue
He won't complain, bitch, moan or gripe
To boast or brag, he ain't the type
He's a natural part of the land he rides
Wherever you see him, his mustache abides

© Saturday,  May 27, 2017  McGehee

I Got Yer Rant Right Here

(Inspired by a recent email exchange with my brother, who encouraged me to flesh out a rant we were sharing about something in President Trump's current budget proposal.)

Health care is neither a right nor a privilege. Neither are food or housing. They are transactions.

Food and housing are commodities. Unless you have the means to grow your own food and build your own house, you buy these things from someone that does. They have invested their treasure and sweat to produce these valuable goods and have a right to dispose of them as they see fit — usually in return for mutually acceptable compensation from the person receiving them.

Once you've exchanged a price for something, it's yours, and now you have the moral and legal right to use or dispose of it as you see fit. What you don't have is a right to have anything provided to you from someone else's treasure and sweat without providing compensation from your own treasure and sweat.

Medical care is a product of billions of dollars of research, testing, training and production. All of that has to be paid for. If you want medical care, you need to contribute to paying for it. The fact you have to do that means it is not a right. It is a service. Calling it a right imposes a moral context to what is and can only ever be an economic concept. If you pay for your health care, you have a right to expect it to be effective and to improve your well-being — but you don't have an absolute moral right to receive it in the first place.

If I have purchased something, and therefore have the right to use or dispose of it as I see fit, that means I have the right to present it to some third person without expectation of compensation. The word for this is gift. The recipient did not have a right to demand I do this; until I actually do it, I have the right not to. But once I have made the gift, then it is his — to use or dispose of as he sees fit.

If I have presented it to him on the mutual understanding that I will want it returned when he is finished with it (or after a set period of time), then it remains mine. He is obligated to care for it as I would if it were still in my possession, and return it to me as agreed. If he fails to do so, I am entitled to compel its return, if I wish.

These principles are a part of the concept of property. Contrary to Marx, property is not theft; property is a right. The denial of rightfully owned property, however, is theft — whether said denial is made by the thief, or by a court of law, or by the makers of law.

If I, over the course of years, have earned more money than I needed to live day by day, and put the surplus aside against a day when I can no longer earn a living, that surplus money is mine. If I have entrusted it to a third party on the agreement that he will safeguard it for when I need it, it is still mine. If the third party has misrepresented his intentions and uses my money for other purposes and is unable to provide it to me as agreed, he has committed theft. If he happens to be the government, he is no less a thief.

Being the government, he may well get away with it, but a thief he remains.

The safest place for my nest egg is in the nest of my choosing, not the government's, but if he will force me to hand over a portion of my earnings and put it where he chooses, he is obligated to care for it as I would if it were still in my possession. If I can't trust him to do that, he must be made to stop forcing me to let him take it.

© Thursday,  May 25, 2017  McGehee

They Brought a Gun to a Dog Fight

...and the dog won.

About 10 p.m., one of the young bandits kicked down the baby gate and entered the home waving a handgun and saying, “Give it up, I’m not …. playing,” according to the police report released Monday morning.

That’s when the family pet came to its owners’ protection, according to the report.

While pugs are often described as a small dog friendly to strangers, this particular pug reportedly ran barking toward the home invaders, who turned tail and fled, according to police.

Nothing was stolen and no one was injured, police said.

The mutt let 'em off easy. This time.

© Wednesday,  May 24, 2017  McGehee

Android Guhhh...

So Google just announced an upcoming innovation called Android Go, which will be a branch, sort of, of the next version of Android. It's meant for low-end devices that don't have the power or storage of phones like my Nexus 6P or tablets like my Pixel C.

facepalmSounds nice, right? I still have a Nexus 5 and a couple of older tablets lying around that might benefit from being able to run a lite version of the latest Android operating system — they've all been dropped from the update schedule and are stuck with past versions of Android.

Well, apparently not. It reads as if the devices Go is meant for, are new lines that will begin to ship next year.

© Monday,  May 22, 2017  McGehee

Summer Comes Unfashionably Early Hereabouts

I wanted to keep the Chugwater scene until Memorial Day, but yesterday the temperature here on the home acres in subtropical west Georgia topped 90 degrees so I figured it was time to go with the summer backdrop.

Meet Red Canyon again.

Update, Thursday afternoon: Meanwhile, in Wyoming...


Yes, that is the same webcam that took the image I was using as a backdrop until yesterday.

© Wednesday,  May 17, 2017  McGehee

Where Do You Go When the World Is Ending?

Apparently, Norway.

It’s not just Donald Trump’s volatility, or the unfitness of his cabinet appointees, or his possible collusion with Russia, or the certain prospect that everything from health care to quality education will soon be inaccessible to great numbers of Americans.

It’s that with or without Mr. Trump, America may no longer be the America that I returned to from Norway (after my girlfriend and I were unable to obtain visas) and whose blessings and opportunities eventually made it possible for me to make a career and a life.

Lefties, if Trump is that bad, the resulting damage will be global, not strictly limited to central North America. There will be no escape on that portion of continental Europe closest to North America. There will be no escape in Australia. It might not even be safe on the Moon, or on Mars, if the way you're describing him has any basis in reality.

The first thing all you bed-wetters need to do is examine your premises. You've convinced yourselves of something that millions of your countrymen don't see. It may be that they're blind, or hypnotized, but you need to consider the possibility that you're wrong.

It's what a rational person would do. And you do want us all to believe you're rational, right?


© Monday,  May 15, 2017  McGehee

Two of the Seven Are Locations We Rented From

Blockbuster Video is a shadow of the forgotten past.

...except in Alaska. Seven (according to Blockbuster's website — yes, they still have a website) out of twelve remaining U.S. stores are in Alaska, including locations on College Road in Fairbanks and North Santa Claus Lane in North Pole. When we lived in Interior Alaska there was no broadband internet, and you couldn't stream movies on dial-up. You probably still can't.

And apparently even those in Alaska who do have broadband now, 18 years later, can't afford to stream movies. And I suppose Netflix DVDs may take weeks to arrive, coming as they do by slow boat from Seattle.

In our Alaska days you rented movies on VHS tapes; we didn't even have a CD player — actually a CD-ROM drive on a Windows 95 computer — until 1996. Our first DVD player didn't arrive until we'd moved down here to metro Atlanta. And we did rent from a Blockbuster store (now a Verizon store) about three miles from our first Georgia home, until we signed up with Netflix and helped sign Blockbuster's death warrant.

Which apparently hasn't been carried out yet.

© Sunday,  May 14, 2017  McGehee

New Toy

When I opined to Mrs. McG that it was time to replace the troublesome ZTR mower, I expected to be in for a ... discussion. But in reply to my proffer of the new tractor-style mower I thought was the best choice for the money, she said — in effect — "want me to come with?" So she came with, and today I finally got the front yard and field mowed.

We stayed with the same brand; the John Deeres cost more, and the reviews were disconcerting. The cutting deck is eight inches wider than the zero-turn, so the job gets done quicker. And whatever mischief this tractor is going to do hasn't happened yet, so I can approach the job with confidence I'll actually be able to do it.

It's also a higher ride, like graduating from a sedan to, say, a Bronco on a three-inch lift. That may make for some precarious moments on a part of the property I still have yet to do.

But unlike the ZTR or the used Craftsman mower the ZTR replaced, the new tractor can operate powered attachments. When we move to Wyoming the snow-clearing attachment will come in handy.

© Saturday,  May 13, 2017  McGehee


Over the last few days I've been noticing that some of the images posted on various entries here have disappeared and had to be re-uploaded. Previously I'd had to re-upload my mugshot and title banner as well. Only now have I realized what's going on.

Until a few weeks ago I was using a different Google account, which I have recently had deleted. And apparently pictures posted from a Blogger account that is linked to a deleted Google account, get deleted.

I'll have to make time to sift through the old posts to find which images I have to re-upload, but until then some of the posts may not make a lot of sense without the picture.


Update: Turns out that on about a dozen of the posts the missing images are screenshots of tweets by Twitter accounts that no longer exist, and I didn't bother to save the screenshots. So, there's no point keeping the posts. Nearly all of the remainder have been repaired.

© Friday,  May 12, 2017  McGehee

Getting It Is Better than Having It. Or Throwing It.

Ever since I got my first Android device — a 2012-model Nexus 7 tablet, on sale at Walmart about the time the more advanced 2013 models were released — I've scorned the Google Fit app that has been pre-installed on, if not that one, every one I've acquired since.

But now that Mrs. McG and I are shelling out perfectly good money for our YMCA memberships, which include the use of a fitness activity tracking app, it occurred to me just today that Fit might be a halfway decent, uh, adjunct. It effectively turns my phone into a pedometer so that I get credit for things like wheeling the trash barrel out to the road, or checking the mail.

In the olden days when the mailman brought the day's junk mail and bills right to the doorstep, that wouldn't amount to anything, but I logged nearly 500 steps just going out there and back. It was as much distance as I'd logged using the YMCA walking track last week after Dan wore me out having me use the resistance machines. Though a couple of days prior, before his brutality, I'd managed more than half a mile.

It may help motivate me to walk out to the mailbox more frequently, and make me more likely to get my saddle sores to the actual Y for the other kinds of exercise. Meanwhile my activity log for this week has been rescued from being entirely blank.

Just the other day Mrs. McG was lamenting not knowing where her pedometer was. It didn't occur to me then to tell her her phone could be her pedometer.

Update, next afternoon: the above was merely an estimate, so today I checked more closely as I brought the trash barrel back to the house. There and back again was 440 steps. What that translates into in miles is anybody's guess but mine is, between one-sixth and one-fifth of a mile. If I walk to the mailbox every day that's a mile a week.

Gotta log that.

© Thursday,  May 11, 2017  McGehee

Well....... That Happened.......

I finally — finally! — doused myself with tick repellent and went out to the shed to get started on what I expected to be another tedious process of getting the mower up and running for another long, hot season of yard care.

Just for the hell of it I mounted up and turned the key, expecting the usual to happen, which was nothing. I'd bought a battery charger a couple of months ago on that expectation. In fact I have in recent years become so exasperated with this mower that I hate even the thought of trying to get it going in the spring. Which is why I touched it for the first time today after putting it away last fall.

Lo and behold, the mower cranked. And then it started! Wowee! Like so many preparations I make for the recurrence of bad things, the charger turned out to be more good-luck charm than actual tool.

The inner front yard has been needing attention so I headed over to get that done while the gas in the tank held out. I finished one quick turn around the edges, and the transmission gave out. Again. No power at all to either transaxle.

I hate this mower. I hate all zero-turn mowers. I hate this brand of mower.

I'm not a big fan of any mower, but if it will just do its damn job without costing me double its purchase price in repairs over just a few years, I can work with it. These ZTR mowers, though, seem to run afoul of Scott's Dictum.

© Wednesday,  May 10, 2017  McGehee

Talking Back to Pop Tunes

Frankly, I just like the follow-up song better. Even despite the occasional bursts of atonal instrumental noise that obscure certain lyrics, I mostly understand them.

But all those decades ago when you released this first one, I couldn't make out the words at all. In fact the singing was so muddy I was never really sure what the song was even called. As a result my mind apparently misremembered it so badly that I even made up a more interesting lyrical meter than what I found today when I finally stumbled on it thanks to Youtube.

I was so sure I was going to want to buy it, as I did the later one, that I almost went ahead and did so before looking up the lyrics and listening along.

Snore. Apparently the only thing holding my attention was the mystery of what the damn thing was about. Guess what it was really saved by was its unintelligibility — which, far from being zero, was pretty damn close to one.

© Tuesday,  May 9, 2017  McGehee

21st Century Anachronisms, 1

To the sound of a phonograph needle scratching across vinyl in the age of .mp3 music, and the continued use of "dialup" in the age of touchtone and smartphones, add this:

Why does the trashcan icon lack wheels and a hinged lid?

© Tuesday,  May 9, 2017  McGehee

A Very Brief Experiment

Blogger™ users have the option of using their Google+ profile instead of the more limited Blogger profile. There's also the option of using Google+ for comments. I detect a lingering twitch of hope by Google that the + might still become the platform of choice for us content-generatin' types.

One upside to linking the blog to G+ is that I can auto-share new posts from here to the other platform. The downside is that my preferred compact handle — McG — would no longer be an option (unless I choose to make it my entire Google identity, which I'm not sure I could anyway).

As for Google+ as a comment platform, the sorting options are "Best" or "Newest." I've always preferred "Oldest." What with being a fart of the not-so-fresh variety myself...

I learned all this by trying it out this morning. You'll notice everything is back the way it was now.

Update, May 27: Having renamed the blog to include the "McG" moniker in the title, I've decided to go ahead and use the G+ profile. Still not using G+ comments, though.

'Nother update, June 17: I've reverted to the Blogger profile and deleted the Google+ profile. When Google asked why, I told them they need to put G+ out of its misery.

© Tuesday,  May 9, 2017  McGehee

Misadventures in PC Rehab

Aw, c'mon — if you think that title refers to offering Gitmo detainees subsidized housing and free health care in the big American city of their choice as an incentive to tell their captors they've denounced terror, you just don't know me at all.

I have custody of two Windows 7 PCs that used to belong to Mrs. McG's late mother: an HP desktop and an Acer laptop. Yesterday I isolated the files on the laptop that Mrs. McG would want to keep, and copied them onto a thumb drive (the desktop's contents likely will require more than one trip). Then I gave the laptop a mindwipe, hoping the machine's peanut-butter-and-molasses performance would disappear along with the remnants of all of Marie's old software that hadn't come off the disk when I uninstalled it last year. Restoring the factory installation of Windows took some time, and Windows Update consumed some more hours installing all of the updates Microsoft had issued for Windows 7 over the years. Actually, there weren't as many individual downloads as I was fearing.

It did stop tripping over itself in trying to carry out the simplest tasks, but there were two tasks I set it that it just couldn't do. I tried to install the PC-to-cloud sync utilities offered by Google, Dropbox and Microsoft. Somehow Dropbox didn't even need to ask for my login credentials, having perhaps smartloaded them into the installation after I'd logged into the website to get the software. It worked like a charm, taking only minutes to sync the cloud account's contents onto the Acer's hard drive.

Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive, however, couldn't find their way to the internet to log me in. Both installers had accessed the internet to bring in the complete software, but once the software was complete, nothing.

I have 17-plus gigabytes of data on those cloud accounts. Without a working live-sync utility, that laptop is no good to me.

Oh, and it's still slower — by oozes and farts! — than this Linux machine I've been using these last couple of years.

So, back to Gitmo with it. I'll eventually get around to lobotomizing the HP too, but I don't expect better results. Besides, I've had lousy luck with desktop computers since moving to Georgia. Surge protectors don't really seem to work all that well hereabouts.

Update, Sunday: I downloaded a version of ChromeOS from CloudReady, which installed okay — but the screen flashes so much I could barely do anything with it. This Acer laptop seems to want to face the firing squad.

© Saturday,  May 6, 2017  McGehee

A Few Minutes Ago at Yellowstone


After several minutes of teasing its audience with a series of spurts and gurgles, Old Faithful finally went off with a photogenic display while I was watching on the live webcam.

The live action was even better looking than this; the static webcam's shutter speed isn't as good as the video webcam's frame rate, and the former's captures aren't uploaded quickly enough even during the prediction's time window.

I wish park personnel would update the eruption forecasts more frequently. The geyser erupts several times a day but the prediction on the livecam web page only seems to be updated a couple of times each day.

© Thursday,  May 4, 2017  McGehee

Late Last Night

If I were still on Twitter you could've already seen these, instead they were shared exclusively (at the time) with Mrs. McG:

Media in Europe and Australia are speculating that an unusual sudden meeting called at Buckingham Palace means Prince Philip has passed away. He's 95.

11:55 p.m. Wednesday, May 3

By morning, of course, it became known that rumors of the Duke of Edinburgh's death had been greatly exaggerated. He's merely retiring from public duties. Still, before the full story had yet been released there was this:

Buckingham Palace denies. In other news, a building spoke.

1:33 a.m. Thursday, May 4

So he's still alive and kicking, but Fleet Street won't get to kick him around anymore.

© Thursday,  May 4, 2017  McGehee

Aw, Crap

Of course the timing of Netflix's release for rental of Rogue One was on purpose, but I've never paid attention to "May the Fourth." Now it seems when I watch the DVD tonight I'll be taking part in a mass observance.

Yuck. I'll watch it tomorrow. In the original Klingon.

© Thursday,  May 4, 2017  McGehee

Pine in Recline

So I look out the window and there's a fire truck stopped in the road, athwart my driveway. I hadn't collected today's mail yet so I ambled out thataway to see what was all the brouhaha, and also bring in last year's Star Wars movie and whatever other junk had been dumped in our spiffy new mailbox that I hoped was still standing.

Turned out one of the big old pine trees near the line where our deeded home acres abut the county right-of-way, decided to take a load off its roots and lie down on the nice, comfy asphalt. The mailbox got a thrill show but had been in no danger.

By the time I got there they'd cleared the roadway and were about to head back to the fire station. They only clear the pavement itself, so there's a rather large portion of potential firewood still on county property (plus some on mine). One of the firemen assured me no one had been hurt in the fall, which is a relief.

Update, Friday morning: yesterday someone came and chainsawed the portion of the fallen tree that was on county right-of-way, and right now there's a county crew out there and it sounds like they're loading up the sawn logs for removal.

At least I hope that's what they're doing. Anyway, the part of our property affected by the tree fall is one we found in a more or less natural state and that's how I've kept it, so if they leave the rest of the tree on the private property that will be fine with me.

© Wednesday,  May 3, 2017  McGehee

Fifteen Years to the Minute

On May 3, 2002, I sat down in front of a Windows 98 desktop computer in what I came to refer to as Castle McGehee — a three-bedroom house on just under an acre in a residential subdivision not all that far from the present home acres — and posted this, the first post to my first blog:

Middle East

Even as it’s being decided there’s no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11, that question becomes increasingly unnecessary. After all, he was offering Palestinian human-bomb terrorists an inducement, in the form of $25,000 to their families, and now we have some idea where this money was coming from.

Let’s face it—if the Bush Doctrine is to have any meaning beyond high poll numbers for Dubya, Saddam Hussein needs to go down. So do the theocrats in Iran, who are increasingly facing a restive populace, not excluding their own most respected clergy. And let’s not forget the pampered princes of petroleum who preside over the Arabian occupied territories from their palaces in Riyadh.

As for Old Stinky (more charitably known as Yasser Arafat), with one of his top lieutenants dropping a dime on him to Shin Bet, his fall ought to be accelerating presently, even without the Bush Administration onboard. Joel Mowbray’s piece at TownHall.com starts out sounding like a criticism of Israel, and there’s criticism aplenty for Israeli tactics that might not be up to snuff from our rarefied perspective (a perspective not yet coarsened despite 9/11), but he lays most of the blame on Old Stinky and his henchmen. There’s a lot to be said for some UN culpability there too.

At the time I was using Blogger, hosted on Blogspot (I later removed it to my own hosted domain which, at the time, was mcgeheezone.com), so I've come full circle. In between times I self-hosted using Movable Type and Expression Engine, and then Wordpress.

These days I'm using Blogger because the main reason I want to keep the domain now is for my email address, for which I don't need website hosting or FTP access.

Not all of the links in the piece still work (let alone the opinions). The surprise is that most still do.

© Wednesday,  May 3, 2017  McGehee

Rain and Wind and...

The home acres just got bombarded with a heavy salvo of water projectiles, heavy enough to create its own wind. What hasn't been in evidence, according to the lightning detector app I downloaded this morning, is thunder; the nearest strike I saw, last time I checked it, was 95 miles away.

This storm is part of a system that, on the radar map, looks like an enormous, skeletal comma with its center of circulation in Iowa. It would take me two days of moderately tiresome driving (not counting traffic) to get there from here. So, is a bit of flash too much to ask?

As I recall from a weather report I saw last week, this system started out looking very similar, out in the northwestern Pacific. The models — weather models, which have to actually demonstrate predictive value, unlike climate models — predicted it would hold together and traipse across the American heartland about now. Parts of it did serious damage here and there to our west, but it seems to have fizzled as those parts have passed through our neck of the woods. Last night a mean-looking leading line fell apart as it crossed the area of Talladega Mountain in eastern Alabama, and this morning the more cohesive trailing line held together only slightly better.

As I was typing that preceding sentence I finally received the first notification of a lightning strike just 20 miles away, but it was east of here. The storm is receding into the distance having already given us the worst it cared to.

There's still a disorganized mishmash of weather bringing up the rear, so we may see some individual cells pass through later today that might make more noise.

© Monday,  May 1, 2017  McGehee


Get Waterfox


May 2017


Original content and design © 2017 Kevin McGehee. Images and excerpts are © their respective owners.